Top 10 Best Kept Secrets of Vancouver, British Columbia (With Map)

Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver, B.C.

If you or someone you know are immigrating or traveling to Vancouver, BC, be sure to visit some of our favourite spots listed below (in no particular order). We’ve provided a map at the end of this post of each location.

You won’t find Stanley Park or Granville Island in this post – these are spots that locals frequent and don’t often find their way into travel guides.

If you have a favourite destination in Greater Vancouver you’d like to add, feel free to post it in the comment section.

1. Southlands

An oasis inside the city. Here you’ll find peace and quiet, with massive homes on large acreages. Horses abound and riders are often riding on the narrow, quiet roads.

Bike or walk the trail along the river and see some impressive yachts moored to some private docks. You won’t believe you are still in Vancouver.

2. Forty Ninth Cafe

Coffee fans will have a hard time going back to Starbucks after experiencing the Forty Ninth Cafe.  They are coffee fanatics and roast all their own beans.  No advertising required  - this place is always busy through word of mouth.

3. Buntzen Lake

Just outside Vancouver in the city of Port Moody, Buntzen Lake is a pretty spot with sandy beaches and rolling hiking trails. Makes a great canoe or kayak destination, as motor boats are not allowed on the lake.

4. New Westminster Quay

A 15 minute skytrain ride takes you to the New Westminster Quay. Completely refurbished, the Quay offers a shops and cafes, and a long boardwalk along the river, which leads to two parks at either end.

Visit the Fraser River Discovery Centre and watch the tugboats and freighters ply the water.

5. Westham Island

Another pleasant oasis, Westham Island contains the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is 850 acres of protected wetlands and natural marshes, and you can see thousands of birds and waterfowl while walking on miles of trails. Bird seed can be purchased onsite for feeing the birds.

Westham Island also has a local winery and farms that you can view and visit.

6. Twin Islands

You won’t be able to drive to these islands located in Indian Arm, roughly between North Vancouver and Port Moody. One of the prettiest spots anywhere in the lower mainland, Twin Islands are a fantastic place to hang-out and explore.

You’ll likely see a wealth of sea life and 360 views of the ocean.

There are docks and camping sites if you wish to stay longer than a day. Canoes and kayaks are available to rent nearby in North Vancouver.  It’s an easy paddle, just watch the weather as it can get choppy on windy days.

7. Iona Beach

Just north of the Vancouver Airport, Iona Beach is a jetty of sand and grass at the mouth of the Fraser River, where it meets the ocean.  This is a great area to walk, with hiking trails and throughout.  Check out the beach at low tide and discover all sorts of things that wash-up on shore, often from thousands of miles away.

8. Savary Island Pie Company

Not actually located on an island, the Savary Island Pie Company in West Vancouver has the best pies around, bar none.  The coffee is great, too.  It’s a busy place usually, with limited seating.  Taking a pie home is also an option.  Another place that has no need to advertise, word of mouth gets them plenty of business.

9. Lighthouse Park

You might see this park in some tourist guides, but I had to include it just the same.  A very picturesque walk down to the ocean and a lighthouse (although you can’t access the lighthouse, as it is still operational).  A more rugged trail circles the park, with plenty of views of the mountains and oceans.

10. Bowen Island

A 15 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay takes you to this tranquil island, away from the rush of Vancouver.  Quaint restaurants and shops, a lake with hiking trails, 360 views of Howe Sound, well worth a trip.

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10 Best Kept Secrets of Vancouver

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Southlands: 49.217827, -123.179036
Forty Ninth Cafe: 49.268037, -123.154057
Buntzen Lake: 49.350625, -122.859859
New Westminster Quay: 49.199985, -122.912114
Westham Island: 49.093557, -123.165949
Twin Islands: 49.348587, -122.888394
Iona Beach: 49.218943, -123.213773
Savary Island Pie Company: 49.323924, -123.115198
Lighthouse Park: 49.335402, -123.262217
Bowen Island: 49.376765, -123.370154
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Southlands
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Forty Ninth Cafe
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Buntzen Lake
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New Westminster Quay
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Westham Island
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Twin Islands
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Iona Beach
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Savary Island Pie Company
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Lighthouse Park
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Bowen Island

About the author

Gianpaolo Panusa Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile


  • brenn kelly2

    Very interesting article, it deserves to be shared… I am a frequent traveler. I am addicted to the beautiful locations of North America. For accommodation I prefer hotel le president, Sherbrooke.